Xavi Hernandez has expressed his surprise at Arsenal and shared what the Barcelona manager told Mikel Arteta after his side lost a pre-season friendly 5-3 in Los Angeles.
The Gunners ended the club’s tour of the US against the La Liga champions at SoFi Stadium on Wednesday night. Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha would twice give their Spanish side the lead, though. Yet Arsenal responded on both occasions before they ran up the scoreline.
Marc-Andre ter Stegen failed to deny Bukayo Saka or Kai Havertz from equalising during the first half. Leandro Trossard then put his injury concerns in the past to bag a brace and a lead. Ferran Torres would pull a goal back for the Blaugrana but Fabio Vieira instantly struck back.
Arsenal now return to Europe to conclude their pre-season schedule at home to AS Monaco in the Emirates Cup next Wednesday. Barcelona, on the other hand, are only now getting up to speed. They had only faced Vissel Kobe so far this summer and took a 2-0 win on June 6.
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Meetings with Real Madrid, AC Milan and Tottenham Hotspur still await Barcelona before a trip to Getafe to start the La Liga campaign. Arsenal had already met Watford, FC Nurnberg, the MLS All-Stars and Manchester United before visiting the home of the NFL side, LA Rams.
Arsenal surprised Xavi as the Barcelona boss bemoans their intensity
An eight-goal thriller gave those in attendance at the world-record $5.5bn (£4.2bn) stadium of Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke’s NFL franchise a treat. But Arsenal’s intensity surprised Xavi and the Barcelona boss told Arteta that he likened the friendly to a Champions League clash.
“It was a good game for the fans but not so much for the coaches,” Xavi moaned, via quotes by ESPN. “It was up and down. You could tell Arsenal are much further down the line than us. That said, we were far too soft in defence.
“There were positives and negatives, though. I said to Mikel at the end of the game, it was like a Champions League tie with the intensity they put in.
“It was not normal for a friendly. But I understand everyone wants to win. For us, it was our first friendly and we went into it off the back of loads of players having had a bug.”
Barcelona had arranged to start their pre-season tour of the US last Saturday with a friendly against Juventus. But the Blaugrana had to call off the match in San Francisco on the day of the game. A significant part of the La Liga champions’ team developed viral gastroenteritis.
Arteta needed a win after Arsenal’s mistakes against Manchester United
Xavi continued when asked if he found the intensity of the friendly surprising: “Not ours but Arsenal’s, yes. It is not normal to play with so much intensity, making tactical fouls. Everyone wants to compete but it is a friendly. They were playing with another level of intensity.”
While Xavi disliked how Arsenal tackled the pre-season friendly, beating Barcelona was what Arteta needed after losing to Manchester United. The Gunners lost via their own mistakes as Aaron Ramsdale failed to deny Bruno Fernandes and Gabriel Magalhaes let Jadon Sancho in.